In today's ever-changing business landscape, sustainability has become a crucial consideration for commercial property owners. Embracing sustainable practices not only benefits the environment but also brings financial advantages, improved tenant satisfaction, and enhanced market reputation. One valuable tool that aids in assessing and improving the sustainability of commercial properties in the UK is the SKA Rating. In this article, we provide a comprehensive overview of the SKA Rating, its significance, and how it can benefit commercial property owners.
What is the SKA rating?
The SKA Rating is a widely recognized sustainability assessment and certification method specifically designed for fit outs of commercial properties in the UK. It helps landlords and tenants assess fit out projects against a set of sustainability good practice criteria, known as good practice measures. These measures cover areas such as energy and CO2 emissions, waste, water, materials, wellbeing and transport.
Because every fit out project is unique in terms of the employers’ requirements, the building, site or scope of works, the SKA rating scores projects only on the basis of measures that are relevant to the project, called ‘measures in scope’. Typically, between 30 and 60 measures are likely to apply to most projects. By undergoing the SKA Rating assessment, commercial property owners gain valuable insights into their building's sustainability performance and identify areas for improvement.
What are the benefits of SKA rating?
Obtaining a high SKA Rating brings numerous benefits for commercial property owners:
- Enhanced market value: Properties with high SKA Ratings are more attractive to tenants, investors, and other stakeholders. They showcase a commitment to sustainability, which is increasingly valued in the market.
- Improved energy efficiency: A high SKA Rating reflects optimised energy consumption and reduced operating costs. It allows property owners to identify energy-saving opportunities, implement efficient systems, and lower carbon emissions.
- Enhanced indoor environmental quality: The SKA Rating also considers factors such as occupant comfort, indoor air quality, and health and well-being. Achieving a high rating ensures a healthier and more productive environment for building occupants.
- Compliance and reputation: A high SKA Rating demonstrates compliance with sustainability regulations and standards. It establishes a reputation for responsible corporate citizenship and positions the property as a leader in sustainability practices.
What is the process?
The process to obtain an SKA Rating involves several steps and engagement with qualified assessors. Here is an overview of the typical steps involved in obtaining an SKA rating:
- Scope: The process begins by engaging with a qualified SKA assessor, who reviews the scope of relevant assessment criteria and decides which applies to the fit out project. The assessor creates a custom scorecard for the project.
- Design stage assessment: This is where the assessor works with the project team during the design stage, ensuring the implementation of as many ‘in-scope’ measures as possible. At the end of this period, a design stage assessment is issued in order to provide an indicative rating for the project.
- Handover assessment. During the construction stage, the assessor again works with the project time to collect evidence, data and documentation demonstrating specific measures have been delivered.
- Certification: Once the handover assessment is submitted, the assessor is able to certify the project and certification can be displayed. The assessor will calculate the overall performance of the project, and will assign either a Gold, Silver or Bronze SKA rating
Improving your SKA rating
To improve your SKA Rating, there are several sustainable practices that can be implemented. Here are a few examples:
- Energy efficiency measures: Upgrade building systems, implement efficient lighting solutions, optimise HVAC systems, and consider integrating renewable energy sources.
- Waste reduction and recycling: Implement waste management strategies, promote recycling initiatives, and minimise the generation of waste within the property.
- Optimise water usage: Implement water-saving fixtures, monitor water consumption, and explore water conservation measures such as rainwater harvesting.
- Prioritise occupant comfort: Focus on indoor air quality, thermal comfort, and natural lighting to create a healthier and more productive work environment.
BREEAM vs SKA
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and SKA Rating are both sustainability assessment methods used in the UK. While they share similarities in assessing the environmental performance of buildings, there are notable differences between BREEAM and SKA Rating. Here's an overview of the key distinctions:
- Scope and Focus: BREEAM is a comprehensive sustainability assessment method that evaluates commercial, residential and industrial buildings. BREEAM also applies to all phases of the construction as well as fit-outs and refurbishments, whereas SKA is project driven, and only covers fit-outs and refurbishments in commercial buildings. SKA ratings are also much more flexible in scope, with only relevant measures being assessed.
- Certification fees: The certification fees for BREEAM are based on project size and scope, whereas the SKA rating has a set fee for certification.
- Geographic focus: BREEAM is widely used throughout Europe and the UK to assess the sustainability of buildings, whereas SKA ratings are only used in the UK.
- Assessment process: BREEAM follows a much more detailed and extensive assessment process that used a points-based system to evaluate the building’s performance against specific criteria in various categories. Whereas obtaining an SKA rating simply requires meeting specific benchmarks related to sustainability factors.
- Certification levels: BREEAM offers a wide range of certification levels, including Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding. Whereas SKA Rating only has three certification levels, Gold, Silver and Bronze.
For more information on BREEAM certification, check out our blog: “The BREEAM Rating System Explained”.
Where does building analytics come in?
Building analytics software, such as CIM’s innovative PEAK Platform, can play a crucial role in helping commercial fit-out projects achieve a higher SKA rating by providing valuable insights, data-driven decision-making and ongoing monitoring, Here are several ways building analytics can improve the sustainability performance and SKA rating of a fit-out project:
- Energy efficiency optimisation: PEAK can analyse energy consumption patterns, identify energy inefficiencies and suggest optimisation strategies. The platform tracks energy usage in real-time, allowing project teams to make data-driven decisions on energy-efficient equipment, lighting systems, HVAC controls and insulation. By optimising energy consumption, the project can reduce its carbon footprint and demonstrate improved energy efficiency for the SKA rating assessment
- Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) management: PEAK monitors and assesses various factors influencing IEQ, such as temperature, humidity, air quality and occupant. It can detect deviations from optimal IEQ levels and provide insights on necessary adjustments, enabling the project team to optimise the indoor environment for occupant well-being.
- Water efficiency monitoring: PEAK monitors water consumption patterns, detects leaks and can identify areas for water efficiency improvements. It can provide insights on water usage trends and suggest water-saving measures that can be implemented during the fit-out.
- Ongoing monitoring and optimisation: Building analytics software enables continuous monitoring of sustainability performance even after the fit-out project is completed. Regular monitoring and optimization of existing systems ensure that sustainability goals are maintained, and that a high SKA rating can easily be achieved in future fit-out projects.
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